I’ve gotten a small handful of emails commending me for my fine work on our latest game, the NYC Voting Arcade — the only problem is that we launched that game in 2004, long before I got here. We did link to it in a story earlier this week about state campaign filings, though, and the voting arcade games are altogether timeless (unless you happen to know that Doug Kellner left the city Board of Elections in 2005).

This has gotten me thinking again about games, gaminess and complexity. Most of our voting arcade games are downright silly. Most of them you can’t win. You don’t get a score. Each game in its arcade makes its point fairly quickly. And? They continue to be hugely popular.

So what does make a game a game? Are games like our recent budget maze too long and drawn out?

Or, should I be asking not “which game is more fun” but “which game does a better job of engaging the reader/player in civic issues?”